29-6-2010 | Neurological Charities call on the HSE to establish a National Programme for Neurological Care.

30 June 2010
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'29-6-2010 | Neurological Charities call on the HSE to establish a National Programme for Neurological Care.' image

The Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI) report "The Future for Neurological Conditions in Ireland: A Challenge for Healthcare; an Opportunity for Change" was launched yesterday (June 28) by the Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney.

In her foreword to the report, the Minister recognises the importance of neurological care, identified by the World Health Organization as the greatest challenge facing health systems in developed countries worldwide. Over 700,000 people in this country are living with neurological conditions such as epilepsy, migraine, stroke, dementia, acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, with this set to increase to 860,000 within ten years.

The NAI is the umbrella group for over 30 neurological charities and health professional representative groups. In a unique initiative, this report brings together leading neurospecialists, academics, researchers and health organisations to examine the challenges facing neurological care in Ireland and the solutions that need to be put in place.

The report provides an essential guide to neurological care in our health services, describing the response to date and the need for a strategic focus on this historically underdeveloped area within Irish healthcare.

In outlining its key recommendations, Laura Keane, Chair of the Editorial Committee spoke of the urgent need to publish and implement two key policy documents in this area, the Strategic Review of Neurology and Neurophysiology Services and the National Neurorehabilitation Strategy.

Speaking on the day, Dr Colin Doherty, Consultant Neurologist in St James Hospital Dublin and Clinical Director of the Epilepsy Programme with the HSE Quality and Clinical Care Directorate, outlined recent progress on neurological services.

Three clinical programmes have been developed by the QCC office, led by Dr Barry White, on epilepsy, stroke and outpatient neurology.

According to Anne Winslow, Chair of the NAI, "The identification of clinical directors in these areas, together with a clinical lead to coordinate the implementation of the neurorehabilitation strategy when it is published, both provide a unique opportunity at this time for the HSE to establish a national programme for neurological care. This broader focus would develop the much needed "road map" for the management of neurological conditions in a range of areas across our health services, including, vitally, in primary care. Tackling the critical issues in neurological care in Ireland can no longer be delayed".

Launching the report, the Minister for Health and Children congratulated the NAI on this unique initiative and its continued key role in informing the debate on neurological care in Ireland. She firmly supports the role of clinical leadership in driving change within the health services and is encouraged that neurology is taking the lead in this area. She pointed to a key step for improving neurological care in Ireland through the forthcoming publication and implementation of the National Neurorehabilitation Strategy. She spoke of her commitment to improving healthcare for the thousands of people affected by neurological conditions and the real potential for the Irish health system to deliver this.

The report can be downloaded free from the NAI website, www.nai.ie and an executive summary is also available.

To coincide with the launch of the report, the NAI are rolling out a nationwide campaign, VOTE FOR THINKING AHEAD, calling on the HSE to establish a National Programme for Neurological Care. This level of commitment and prioritisation is required to overcome current critical problems in accessing these services and to plan for future need.

Members of the Editorial Committee with the Minister for Health and Children at the Launch of the NAI report

NAI members and contributing authors with the Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney at the launch of the NAI report


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